HC Deb 12 July 1995 vol 263 cc645-7W
Mr. Sims

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has to introduce legislation to incorporate a transmission right into the existing copyright law. [33307]

Mr. Ian Taylor

United Kingdom legislation—the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988—already provides copyright owners with exclusive rights to prohibit or to authorise transmission of their works. Broadcasting of copyright material and its inclusion in a cable programme service, which covers digital on-line services, both require authorisation of the copyright owner.

My Department has established close links with industry on issues which may be affected by advances in information and communication technology, including copyright. A sub-committee of my multi-media industry advisory group is considering these matters at present. We are keeping matters under review, not only in the United Kingdom, but, since transmissions cross territorial boundaries, within the European Union and other international forums.

Mr. David Porter

To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) what assessment he has made on the impact on mass market sales of classic paperback reprints of European Union proposals to harmonise copyright laws; and if he will make a statement; [33007]

(2) What assessment he has made on the impact on British printers of European Union proposals to harmonise copyright laws; and if he will make a statement. [33008]

Mr. Ian Taylor

[holding answer 10 July 1995]: Effects on the sale of paperback reprints may arise from directive 93/98/EEC, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers in October 1993. This requires that copyright should expire 70 years after the death of the author and will mean that the duration of copyright in the United Kingdom will have to be increased from its present duration of 50 years, to 70 years after death, and that certain works on which copyright has ceased will have their copyright revived for up to 20 years. However, the directive provides that publication of works prior to revival of copyright will not be regarded as infringement, and enables member states to introduce safeguards to protect those who are in the process of publishing works on the assumption that they are in the public domain.

My Department has recently circulated a consultative draft of legislation to implement the directive. This draft proposes extensive safeguards which, for example, will allow publishers to make and to sell copies made as a result of commitments entered into before 1 January 1995, and to sell any copy made before 1 July 1995, without liability to owners of revived rights. Furthermore, the draft legislation proposes that any publisher who wishes to make a new edition—that is, one which is not covered by the safeguards mentioned above—will be able to do so, and that this cannot be prevented by the owner of revived rights.

I understand that royalty rates for paperback editions are generally around 7 per cent. of the publishers' selling price to the trade. Given the safeguards we propose to introduce, the effects of implementing this directive on the market for classic books would not appear to be substantial, especially since the directive will be of practical significance to only a relatively small number of books,—that is, those which remain popular more than 50 years after their authors' deaths. Classics whose authors have been dead for more than 70 years will not be affected.

As part of the consultation exercise, views as to costs or benefits of the directive have been sought from businesses and others directly affected. A compliance cost assessment will be produced in due course.

The effect of this directive on the United Kingdom printing industry can be expected to be marginal since there is no reason to believe that the directive will affect overall activity in the industry.